When adding a winding to a bow, bow makers don’t just put on whatever we think looks nice. There are several considerations that each material presents including, weight, balance, sound, and feel.
Gold / Silver / Nickel Wire
Metal wire can be obtained in different gauges but I mostly use 32 gauge which measures about .3 mm in diameter. Gold obviously having the most weight and the selection should match the mountings of the bow. It would look silly to have a gold mounted frog and button to then have a silver winding. Yuck! A winding of 70 mm – 75 mm in length of silver wire can weigh up to 5 grams. It also can reduce some of the vibrations in the stick and can be some of the most durable material.
By far my favorite option for a lightweight and durable winding weighing in at about 2.5 grams. Real whalebone was very common on W.E. Hill & Sons bows and good English imitation whalebone is now available. It tends to be the thickest of the materials adding a little bulk in the handling area.
Silk windings are traditional and lightweight, but I’d say it’s the least durable. There are multiple color combinations and can be very attractive when intertwined with brocades. Silk windings being the least bulky, has smoothest finish and is extremely comfortable on the fingers. The weight of a silk winding is negligible.
Braided Silver or Gold on Silk
Perhaps the most elegant, brocades are a fine diameter of gold or silver spun around a silk core. The wire can be braided and is some of the most expensive material for winding. It is often intertwined with silk and can add 2.5 – 4.5 grams depending on diameter and materials.